By: Kyle Myers – Center for Cura Personalis, Case Manager
Going home after the completion of a school year is typically something students are really excited about. This transition back home, though, can come with some unexpected bumps. A few days after returning home, students often find that they miss living in Spokane, miss constantly being surrounded by all of their friends, and start to talk about how they miss Gonzaga. This transition can be particularly hard for first year students who have not gone through a “college summer break” before.
Students who have just experienced a year of perceived freedom at college may find home to be somewhat stifling. For the past ten months, they have rarely had to tell anyone where they were going or when they would be back. There was no curfew. Responsibilities such as getting out of their pajamas, cleaning their room, and doing dishes were done whenever it was convenient or necessitated, not when someone else asked them to. This transition back home can be challenging when students feel like their loved ones have expectations about what, when and how certain things should be done. Take a moment to talk with your student about how your expectations might be similar or different than before they left for college. Touch on things such as: curfew, using the car, chores, and other responsibilities they may have previously had. Find mutually agreed upon expectations that acknowledge your student’s new level of responsibility while also respecting the values and rules of your household. This simple conversation can alleviate a lot of angst and future stress.
With all of these new college friendships, students may find that their relationships with high school friends may have changed in inexplicable ways. Often times these changing relationships are a result of friends going to different schools and no longer having as many shared experiences as they did prior to college. If you find your student spending more time on their phone or computer, it may be their attempt to fill some of the sadness they may feel. Ask your student how they are doing. Encourage them to share more stories or even some pictures of their friends as a way of helping you get to know these people more. If possible, encourage your student to invite some of their college friends over for a weekend. Spending time with your student’s friends provides a great opportunity for you to get to know these people that you hear so many stories about.
The first year of college is also a time when students have been introduced to many new viewpoints and perspectives about a variety of issues. You may hear your student taking a side of a political, religious, or social issue that you have never heard them articulate before. Encourage your student to tell you more about how they learned about the issue, what their feelings are, and why they feel that way, even if those viewpoints run contrary to the way your student was raised. If you feel opposite to how your student is feeling, keep in mind that your student has already learned the valuable skill of articulating a viewpoint. Remember that viewpoints are ever-evolving and that three more years may drastically change your student’s views time and time again.
Summer is a great time for students to meet with providers that they might not have been able to over the last ten months or to continue care that they started with at Gonzaga. Empowering your student to schedule proactive appointments with doctors, dentists, therapists, etc. can help them receive the appropriate medical or emotional care that they need along with continuing to develop the important skill of controlling their own time. It is also important to help your student keep a schedule that supports their health. Summer is a great time to relax, catch up on sleep, and focus on physical health, but it’s also an easy time to get out of the habit of maintaining a healthy schedule. Ask questions that help your Zag maintain habits. Does your student have goals or hopes for the summer? How might you be able to help them achieve these? Your student will feel supported and also be held accountable.
All in all, most students are excited to go home to the comforts of home cooked meals, their own bed, family, friends and pets. A few simple conversations can help the transition home go as smoothly as possible!